And all of a sudden, Markish interrupted in his bass voice that in moments ofpassion became a heroic tenor: “We shall host a literary event that will makethe whole of Warsaw tremble. On a Saturday morning, when all the old piousJews in every synagogue are praying to God—we, the young Jews, shall offerour own hymn in our synagogue to our god.”
Jewish History and Jewish Memory, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi famously links theentry of Jewish life into modernity with the emergence of Jewish historiography.“The modern effort to reconstruct the Jewish past,” Yerushalmi writes, “begins at atime that witnesses a sharp break in the continuity of Jewish living and hence also anever-growing decay of Jewish group memory. In this sense, if for no other, historybecomes what it had never been before—the faith of fallen Jews.”
This rupture,the theoretical break in what was understood as a continuous progression of Jew-ish life, divides modern Jews from their past, and with it comes a consciousness ofthe Jewish past. According to this theory of rupture, the catalyst, if not the directagent, for creation of Jewish modernity is the abandonment of traditional faith forsecular historical consciousness.